Above: NSW Minister for Ageing, Mr Peter Primrose MLA (left) with interested resident, Jean Chapman and Benevolent Society CEO, Mr Richard Spencer at the AHURI/Benevolent Society symposium
The much publicised Apartments for Life project being developed by the Benevolent Society, has received a welcome boost of $5M from the New South Wales state government – a helpful bonus for the development project which has faced more than the usual share of challenges.
In making the announcement, Minister Primrose said that Apartments for Life was one of the most important social housing projects happening in the country.
“It’s one of those wonderful areas of public policy where the socially responsible thing to do, the right thing to do is also the economically responsible thing to do,” Mr Primrose said. “It’s efficient and it leads to the creation of a better, more inclusive community.”
The Benevolent Society’s CEO Richard Spencer welcomed the investment in the $100 million Apartments for Life complex, and hailed it as a step in the right direction for urban planning in NSW.
“I am delighted the Australian and NSW governments have thrown their weight behind the Apartments for Life concept with this significant injection of funding.
“With the number of Australians over 65 projected to double over the next 40 years, and the number of taxpayers supporting them expected to halve, government support for new housing options is crucial,” Mr Spencer said.
The Apartments for Life project is based on the ‘Apartments for Life’ housing and care model developed by the Humanitas Foundation in the Netherlands. The Benevolent Society describes the model as an innovative concept that allows residents to live out the rest of their lives in their own home, eliminating the prospect of multiple moves in later life, relocation to a far-away retirement village or a premature move to a nursing home.
Mr Spencer said the complex will be designed to be age-friendly, and have staff to help residents access support services as they need them, allowing them to retain their independence for as long as possible.
“It will also include facilities for the whole community, recognising the importance of maintaining older people’s networks within the broader community.”
“A key element of Apartments for Life is that 40 per cent of the units will be offered as affordable housing to enable local residents, and in particular older renters, the chance to remain in their local area near their families and friends and local support networks.
Mr Spencer said The Benevolent Society was also appealing to private investors to support the project, and aims to raise an additional $10 million with the issue of innovative ‘social bonds’.
“While social bonds offer a slightly lower economic return than a commercial investment – up to five per cent a year – they do offer a unique opportunity of a social return. Investors will actually be able to see their money making a tangible difference in the lives of older Australians.”
The Apartments for Life Social Bonds will pay annual interest of five per cent for up to eight years plus a bonus interest component linked to the cash flow performance of the project. The bonds are backed by The Benevolent Society, which has been in operation for nearly 200 years.
To find out more about Apartments for Life or investing in social bonds, go to www.bensoc.org.au